The video gaming industry, and by extension esports, has become one of the most profitable and prominent industries in the modern world.
However, this has come with criticism due to cases of video game addiction, whilst in the UK the presence of loot boxes in some releases has been examined as part of the government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
On the latest episode of Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet Show, Cam Adair, founder of video game addiction treatment organisation Game Quitters, shared his views on how the gaming industry can address mental health as well as the rise in popularity of esports, among other topics.
“I think the gaming community itself is very much the first line of defence around these issues,” Adair explained. “Most gamers who play, they know other gamers who are struggling in some way shape or form, doesn’t mean all those gamers are struggling with, say, excessive gaming as an example, but it could be any mental health issue that’s occurring.
“If we look at an issue like bullying, for instance, what was so effective about preventing or reducing bullying, around the world was encouraging peers to speak up.”
He continued: “I think the gaming community itself has such a powerful role to play in this to be able to identify peers in the community who may be struggling, and then encourage them to seek help, and the gaming industry can be providing more resources for those individuals who need that support to be able to find it.”
Adair also detailed his belief that the gaming industry could do more to protect players’ mental health through the utilisation of technology, as well as social media platforms such as instagram.
An instagram hashtag called #Sue, he argued, could provide inspiration for both the gambling and gaming spaces, which is used by people to discuss suicidal thoughts. Instagram has installed a prompt on this hashtag redirecting people to prevention websites, rather than to the main discussion.
Adair detailed: “I think the gaming industry from a technology standpoint, could be utilising some more of this sort of preventative prompt pattern interrupt, or even just marketing initiatives around supporting players mental health, encouraging peers to speak up and encouraging people to get that help.”
Commenting on other issues in the esports and gaming space, Lycka quizzed Adair on the rapid rise of the sector, and questioned his guest as to whether the space could one day rival or even surpass traditional sports in popularity.
It is certainly true that esports and the traditional sporting space have become increasingly intertwined, demonstrated by last week’s announcements by footballers Gerard Pique and Jesse Lingard, both of whom are enhancing their presence in the former sector.
Adair observed that one of the major advantages the esports scene has over traditional sports from a commercial perspective is that new games are constantly being produced, meaning the sector can continually refresh itself and gain new audiences.
“I certainly think that we’re headed in that direction,” Adair remarked. “To give some context, I am 33 years old and started gaming when I was 11 years old, about 20 years ago. When I was a player at 18 years old there were still very few professional gaming outlets for people to develop careers.
“There were a few leagues in Korea, specifically around the game StarCraft and there was some Counter Strike. Now there are scholarships for kids in high school and university for them to pursue their dream of becoming a professional player.
“Another aspect of esports which I think is underrated, if you look at traditional sports, you have the big leagues – football, American football, hockey, basketball, globally cricket and rugby and tennis – outside of those major sports, it’s not like a new sport comes along and is on the same level in terms of viewership and economics as those other traditional sports. Whereas Fortnite came out a couple of years ago, and the Fortnite World Cup is one of the biggest esports events globally.”